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Natural evil

The waste and suffering involved in the process of evolution
Although writers like F R Tennant appear to accept the possibility that the theory of evolution is compatible with belief in God, others may wish to identify one particular aspect of the theory which doesn’t appear to fit in with the idea of a loving God. If evolution is God’s system for creating, why is there so much waste and suffering involved in the process? Could God not have come up with a system that was more pleasant, that didn’t involve a constant struggle to survive? The theory also emphasises that 90% of all living things will not survive. Why would God set up a system that includes so much waste? The survival of the fittest appears to go against all ideas of a good God. Why would a loving God create a world that is red in tooth and claw?
Natural disasters
Natural disasters such as earthquakes, droughts, hurricanes, etc. have also caused untold suffering to countless people throughout history. The following news stories describe graphically the suffering caused by natural disasters.12

Bam, Iran – December 26 2003, 5:27 AM

Iran lowers Bam earthquake toll

Iran has significantly lowered the death toll from the Bam earthquake.

The authorities now say 26,271 were killed when much of the city was flattened on 26 December.

Previously it was said that more than 41,000 had died, but apparently some victims were counted more than once in the chaotic aftermath of the disaster.

Iran’s statistics office said a census had been conducted to determine the exact number killed and that 525 people were still missing.

Abbas Ali Zali, the head of the statistics office, said the new figure covered the city of Bam as well as its surrounding areas and districts, where a total of 142,376 people were living.

Most of the mud brick buildings in the historical city, including its ancient citadel, collapsed when the massive earthquake struck at dawn.

The quake destroyed 70% of the city’s buildings. Tens of thousands of people were injured and left homeless.
Indonesia quake toll jumps again
Indonesia has again raised its estimate of the number of people killed by December’s earthquake and tsunami.

Health Minister Fadilah Supari said more than 220,000 people died or are missing, bringing the total killed throughout the region to 280,000.

A month after the disaster, relief workers in Aceh province are still pulling corpses from the wreckage.

Indonesia: at least 95,000 dead; 133,000 missing, presumed dead

Sri Lanka: 31,000 dead; 5,637 missing

India (inc. Andaman and Nicobar islands): 10,744 dead; 5,640 missing

Thailand: 5,384 dead; 3,130 missing

Somalia: approx. 150 dead

Maldives: 82 dead; 26 missing

Malaysia: 68 dead

Burma: 59 dead (government figure)

Tanzania: 10 dead

Bangladesh: 2 dead

Kenya: 1 dead

Seychelles: 1 dead


2004 Asian quake disaster – toll so far exceeds 110,000

2003 Earthquake in Bam, Iran – official casualty figure is 26,271

1998 Hurricane Mitch devastated much of Honduras and Nicaragua killing 10,000 people

1984/5 Famine in Ethiopia killed an estimated 900,000

1976 Earthquake in Tangshan, China, kills 242,000

1970 Cyclone in Bangladesh kills 500,000

1923 Tokyo earthquake kills 140,000

1887 China’s Yellow River breaks its banks in Huayan Kou killing 900,000

1896 Tsunami kills 27,000 in Japan

1815 Volcanic eruption of Mount Tambora on Indonesia’s Sumbawa Island kills 90,000

1556 Earthquake in China’s Shaanxi, Shanxi and Henan provinces kills an estimated 830,000

Atheists often assume that the reality of moral and natural evil is one of the most important pieces of evidence against belief in God. Throughout the world millions of human beings are suffering all kinds of physical and emotional pain. In Scotland, disease, severe disability, anxiety, fear, depression, loneliness and bereavement are obvious examples. In the face of all this, they argue, how can we possibly think that the world was created and sustained by a powerful, loving creator God?

The problem of suffering can be summed up as follows:

 If God is omnipotent (all-powerful) why doesn’t he crush evil and stop suffering?

 If God is omniscient (all-knowing) why did he create a world which he knew would result in such pain and suffering?

 If God is all-loving why does he allow innocent children to suffer?
Many people assume that if these questions can’t be answered adequately then the only reasonable view to hold is that God simply doesn’t exist.

Summary – The problem of evil and suffering

Many people don’t believe in God because there is so much suffering in the world.

The suffering that results from moral evil is caused by human actions.
Many people think that the suffering of innocent children is the strongest argument against belief in a loving God. The character of Ivan Karamazov, invented by the writer Dostoyevsky, is often used to express this idea.
The suffering that results from natural evil is caused by the way things happen in our world, e.g. natural disasters, the process of the survival of the fittest.
If God is omnipotent (all-powerful) why doesn’t he crush evil and stop suffering?
If God is omniscient (all-knowing) why did he create the world in the first place?

If God is all-loving why does he allow innocent children to suffer?

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